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We finally did the dirty deed. The huge sycamore tree dominating our small backyard is gone. Granted, the tree was not diseased, nor a danger. But it snuffed out precious morning light, dropped anthracnose-ey leaves everywhere, and it was simply too big and oddly placed.

The work was done while I was at work, but my fiance Kim was able to photograph and videotape everything. He texted me photos throughout the day, so I could see the progress.

When I first moved in, my friend Cheryl said,

“It would be a sin”

to cut down the ginormous tree in the back. And my mom recently declared,

“You can’t cut down that tree.”

I did appreciate their concern for the tree and all it provides (loveliness, greenery, shade), but every once in a while ya gotta do something selfish. The tree was casting a shadow, literally and figuratively, on my happiness.

The first few cuts on the backyard sycamore

The first few cuts on the backyard sycamore

In my mind, I was left with two options– either move to another house or kill the tree. After much mulling and several bids from arborists, I finally went with my gut. After all, we live here and want to be happy here. And my folks just built a house behind ours, so if we move now, we’ll lose out on the closeness that proximity affords.  


Kim was fine about the whole tree thing, but he wasn’t thrilled with the first three bids we got. They all seemed high to him, so I kept searching. By a random stroke of luck, I was perusing landscape architects on Houzz and came upon a local landscape architect whose firm I remembered from several years back.

From his site, I jumped to his blog, on which I saw a link to a local furniture crafstman who makes beautiful furniture out of large local trees! On a whim, I e-mailed the craftsman, Clark at New Helvetia Hardwoods, and he came over that same evening to discuss the project. He was able to negotiate the lowest bid out of the four and I am happy our old sycamore will be repurposed into something beautiful and useful.

Additionally, our front yard tree has been cleaned up and lightly pruned. As a new homeowner, I learned that I am responsible for keeping the front yard tree from becoming overgrown and interfering with above-ground power lines.


After the tree came down, Kim came up with a great idea to make the yard seem even bigger by moving the driveway gate out a bit. I really like that idea and am eager to start looking for landscape contractors/designers/architects who can help us create a backyard we love.

The part of the tree that will become furniture

The part of the tree that will become furniture

Grinding the stump

Grinding the stump

I am sad at the loss of this tree, but I am so happy with my new backyard. It’s sunny! I will now be able to grow vegetables in the backyard instead of my 1-foot wide driveway strip. Let’s face it. Most vegetables do not want to grow vertically in half-shade; they want to sprawl in the sun. And though it may be an illusion, the yard seems bigger! And I can see sky! We’ll be able to plant the perimeter with trees and shrubs that are more in scale with the size of our yard and still have enough sunshine to keep us in tomatoes and basil all summer and lettuce and peas all winter.

Morning light!

Morning light!

The yard looks a bit rough now, but we’ve at least initiated the pre-installation demolition phase of remodeling an existing backyard in an established neighborhood. Our plan is to tackle any hardscaping, grading, drainage, electrical, sod and irrigation before the fall rains begin. I’m comfortable with plant installation. Heck, that’s the fun part.



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